The Truth About A Fixer Upper

Fixer Upper Thing To Know


You know when you watch those HGTV shows, like Fixer Upper, and it all looks really cool and fun? They buy this house that is a dump, and then they turn it into this amazing dream home. It is a really interesting process, and it all comes together so well (although if you do watch them, there is inevitably a budget snafu).


This isn’t the real deal. Well, let me restate that. If you have a huge budget and a designer and a team of people to help you implement your dreams, then perhaps it is the real deal for you.


But that isn’t the case for us. First of all, we don’t have a big budget. We bought our fixer upper at a non- fixer upper price. So we have a pretty tight budget. Second, I am not a designer and Charlie isn’t a contractor, so we don’t really know what we are doing all of the time. We also don’t have a team of people to help us. It is mostly just us, with some assistance from my parents, and the occasional workmen to do things like pour concrete and lay brick which aren’t things we are comfortable with attempting.


So before you go running out thinking you want to buy your own fixer upper & be the next Chip & Jo, here are a few things I think you should know about them.


It is really time consuming.

I mean this in any aspect that you can possibly imagine. If you don’t have a big budget, like us, then the projects can take months. You save up enough money to do one project. Then you save up enough money to do another. Also, I refuse to have too many projects going on at once. We are taking it a room at a time. Although, we currently have our kitchen cabinets painting project AND our screened in porch project going on at the same time. I messed that one up.


If we plan a project and we think it will take 2 weekends, it typically takes 3 or 4. Everything takes SO much longer than you think. Something is going to happen. If it is an outside project, it is going to rain. Our main issue has been holes in the wall. We took down a mirror, and it was glued to the wall. By the time we got it down, there were huge holes in the walls. Same thing with taking down our kitchen backsplash – enormous holes in the wall.


Besides the actual implementation, the planning is really time consuming. If you have no idea what you want, you spend a lot of time on Pinterest. And you just don’t realize the small things that can really eat into your time. I can’t even count up the amount of hours I spend looking for a kitchen sink. I really wanted a farm sink, but because of our cabinets (which we are not getting rid of), there was only 1 sink that would work. And it was backordered for months and months. So then I wanted a white undermount sink, and guess what? They are practically impossible to find (I didn’t want acrylic or cast iron). Things like finding the right sink, or the right hardware that can really be time consuming and put a halt in the project.


It is extremely expensive.

The costs associated with fixing up a home are incredible. Besides the materials, the paint, the fixtures, you also have to consider the workmen and the extras that add up. Who knew concrete was so expensive? Not me. Every project costs more than you initially budget, so I suggest having some money set aside for those extras you don’t anticipate. But my feeling is this – I want to do it right the first time, so we don’t have to redo it in a year or two. So I would rather spend a little more now, then have to do it all over again later.


It is extremely frustrating and overwhelming.

I am not great with home design. So to start, it is frustrating because I have no idea what I am doing. I spend a LOT of time on Pinterest, watching HGTV and reading HGTV magazine. But with that being said, I do know what I like. So when I see it, I know that is it. I have really been overwhelmed with the bathroom. It is a complete disaster and needs major work. But bathroom renovations are really expensive. Like, they are one of the most expensive things you can do. That is why we decided to do a mini makeover in our bathroom, instead of the gut job I want (more about mini bathroom makeovers here).


But there are a lot of things I have wanted to do, like the farm sink, that just haven’t worked out. Our budget won’t allow it, or we have to choose between one thing or another. Another good example – I despised the light fixture in the entry hall (actually I hate all of the light fixtures in the house). And I found the perfect one, but when I measured, it was really too long for our ceilings. So I had to go back to the drawing board on that one. I love the one we ended up with, but it is super frustrating having to rethink things.


Also, having to do basically the entire house is really overwhelming. Sometimes I get so caught up in how much work there is to do. I just have to stop thinking about it, and only concentrate on the project we are working on.


You have to actually live there.

This may or may not be the case for you, but we are living IN our fixer upper while we fix it up. Now, it isn’t a falling down shack, and we aren’t doing any gutting, so it isn’t the worst. But we do have to live in a some sort of construction zone all of the time. My kitchen has been a disaster since the beginning of September when we took down the backsplash because Charlie has been fixing holes in the walls, and I have been slowly working on the cabinets.


You may not have to live in your fixer upper while it is under construction, but we didn’t have an option since we knew it would be an extremely lengthy process for us (like years).


It is also really rewarding.

Finishing a project is one of the most rewarding experiences. I look at our living room now, and look at the pictures before and I am amazed at what we did. It looks like a completely different room! Every time we complete something, even if it is a small project, it is so exciting. We are always so proud of what we did!


It can be fun.

If you like home decor stuff, fixing up a house can be fun. You are getting to do what YOU want! Yes, you are working with what you have (assuming you aren’t gutting the place), but you can customize it to your desire. I want a mostly white kitchen, and I am going to have a mostly white kitchen.


So if you are considering buying a fixer upper, my suggestion would be to thing long and hard about it. Let me know if you have any questions!


For more on our fixer upper, check out our before pictures, our fireplace makeover, and  a look at our living room before and after.

Living Room Before and After

Living Room Makeover


I am really excited to finally be showing off our completed (for now) living room! This is the first room in our fixer upper that is actually, really complete. A while back I posted about our fireplace redo, but today I am talking about the room as a whole.


Here is a look at what it looked like before:


Living Room Before


Living Room Before


Living Room Before


We had good bit of work to do in this room. Most of the work we did was on the fireplace. That was a huge project. After we completed that, fixed the enormous holes in the walls that were left from furniture banging into the walls, we painted and started putting the room together.


Living Room Makeover


The reason I said complete for now is because some day I plan on replacing the door and window with french doors that lead out to the backyard. Right now it is 1 working door, and the other side looks like a door but it doesn’t open. It is just windows. Charlie isn’t super thrilled about another living room project, but that one will be down the road. Although, in hind sight, I wish I had done it all at once.



Living Room Makeover


As much as I curse our house constantly, I really love our living room. I love the way the entry hall opens up into it, and that you can see my blue door from the living room. And I love the vaulted ceilings (even though that made painting impossible for us to do ourselves). And I love how open it all feels.


Living Room Makeover


All of our furniture is furniture we already had, and we were lucky that it all fit really nicely. It has taken me a really long time to get our furniture right. I’ve slowly added to it over time. And I finally convinced Charlie several years ago to let me add pink in with the navy and white.


Living Room Makeover


Living Room Makeover


I still haven’t figured out what to do on that upper ledge that is above the bookcases, so if anyone has any ideas, please let me know!


Here are a list of where some things came from:

Couch: IKEA

Chairs: IKEA

Rug: Caitlin Wilson

Pillows: Similar

Bookcases: Target

Curtains: My grandmother made them, but these are similar

Table by fireplace: Target

Bar cart: Ballard Designs


And if you would like to know more, make sure to sign up for my newsletter. It is going out next week, and I am going to be talking about paint colors and why I only use white paint. You can sign up at the bottom of this post!

Closet Before and After

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Today, I am sharing another one of our house fix ups. The closet was actually one of the first things I tackled, but it took a long time for me to finish. When I say that EVERYTHING in the house has been an issue, I mean it. Even my closet. In the master bathroom, there is a walk in closet, which I naturally claimed as my own and made Charlie put his stuff in a guest bedroom closet.


closet before 1


closet before 2


When my dad and I went to start working on it, we realized that the weird wire shelving they used made giant holes in the wall. I hate that wire shelving. It made the space completely unusable. It took us an entire day to get all of the shelving down (the screws would not come out of the walls!). So then I spend two days filling in holes and repainting the walls. It was a nightmare.


closet after 2


closet after 3


This is what it looked like after we were done, without clothes. We used Closet Maid Selective pieces from Home Depot. I like the way you can design what you need to fit your space. We were able to modify the pieces fairly easily so that I had exactly what I needed. On one side, we used the shelves (which is perfect for my shoes) that had the bars on either side. On the other side we used the drawers with the bars.  You can have double bars, which I did for my shirts, but the other side just has the single bars for dresses and skirts.


And here it is with my clothes:


closet redo 2


closet redo 3


closet redo 4


Now it is exactly what I need! Lots of room for my dresses and shoes, of course. Well, there is never enough room for shoes, but you know what I mean. I just wish I had thought to pull up the carpet and put down laminate when we did it in our bedroom. I hate carpet.


I recently did a MAJOR closet clean out, which can be super overwhelming but I felt so much better about it all when I was done. If you are needing to do a closet clean out, make sure to sign up for emails at the end of this post – you’ll get my closet clean out checklist, plus The Monthly Edit, my 1x a month newsletter with exclusive content and 1x week blog post recap emails .


For more on our fixer upper, check out the before pictures and our fireplace before & after.

Backyard Plans

outdoor pineapple mat


I am not going to sugar coat this – our backyard is a disaster (as is most of the house). But the backyard is really bad. To be honest, we have been focusing so much on the inside, we just haven’t had time to pay much attention to the outside.


We spend a lot of time outside during the spring / summer / fall. The boys love to play in the backyard, the hubs loves to grill, I love to hang out. So our outdoor space is really important to us. Right now, we aren’t focusing on the landscaping. We are trying to get the outdoor “living” space together so we can enjoy the summer.


Right now, we have a little overhang when you come out our back door. Then you step up and on to a wood deck (that is a weird reddish maroon color). There are 3 steps which leads to a large deck.


Here is it now:




I hate that you step down out the back door and then step back up onto the wood deck. That is going away.



Yes, that is a John Deere tractor in the corner…






Our goal is to build a screened in porch when you come out the door, then have a door that leads to the stairs to the deck (which will have to be rebuilt and pushed back some). I wanted to take out the trees, but the hubs was really against that.


This is terrible but kind of like this:

backyard plan


A little inspiration:




We have a lot of outdoor furniture – a long table,which will go on the screened in porch, a circular table that will go on the deck, and a swing, which will also go on the deck. We also have a really cute stand up bar + bar stools that matches the long table, and that will go in the screened in porch. Most of our outdoor furniture came from Target. To be honest, I designed the outdoor space to work with our furniture.


We don’t have a ton of room to add more furniture, but I would love to add a little bench or couch on the screened in porch if we have room.


For the furniture:


Table / Bar / Umbrella / Door Mat / Rug / Love Seat / Pillow

I just bought the Door Mat, and I can’t wait to put it down when we finish construction!

I had a really hard time figuring out what do to outside. This has been the hardest thing for me, unless you count our bathroom which I still haven’t figure out what to do in there. I have said it before, I am terrible with this kind of thing. But I knew that I wanted a screened in porch connected to the house (the hubs kept trying to put it in the middle of the yard), and I knew I also wanted a deck that wasn’t screened in.

We are going to be pouring concrete for right outside the backdoor and for the whole screened in porch. I would love to put a super cute outdoor rug down, but I don’t know if that would be possible. I did see this on pinterest and it might be a better option (it is a stencil)



So those are our not so concrete plans. The hubs understands more about what we are doing than I do (which is good since he is doing the implementing), He started pulling up the bottom decking this past weekend (actually right after I took these pictures). It is going to be quite a process. But I am anxious to get it done!

Fireplace Before & After

I am super excited to share our fireplace before and after!! This was the first big project we tackled in the #hodumfixerupper. And it was a process. The hubs is handy, but we have never done anything like this before. And since the living room was pretty much un-livable until it was done, it was our first project.



This is what the fireplace looked like before.


The tile was cracked. The people that lived there before us had three small children. I was afraid for my dogs to get hurt by the broken tile.

Plus it was ugly and the mantle was too small. It all had to go.


The mirror that was GLUED to the wall left a lot of damage. So the hubs had to redo a lot of it. Pretty bad, right?


Here is the after:



I am so pleased with the way it came out! I had seen two ideas on Pinterest that I wanted to combine, but I was a little nervous. Truthfully, I told the hubs I really just wanted Joanna’s (as in Gaines, as in Fixer Upper) approval. Oddly enough, the next episode of Fixer Upper that we watched she did something similar! (Please don’t judge me, this kind of stuff really isn’t my thing).



Vase  / Topiaries / Flower Box (similar – mine came from HomeGoods) / Candle Stick Holder


So after tearing everything out (a frightening experience), we put in the brick. (we had someone come do the brick since neither of us have brick experience and we were not messing that up). The bottom is regular brick, and around the fireplace are brick pavers that is about an inch thick. We left the original glass doors, but we did spray paint them black. Then I white washed the brick (I am going to do a how to post on that soon. It is super easy!)


We ordered the mantle from Mantles Direct. The fireplace surround came from Lowes (unfortunately I don’t see it online anymore).


Since we have vaulted ceilings, I really wanted to do something to give the space above the fireplace some interest, but we were planning to put our tv there, so it couldn’t be too much. So we did shiplap (have I mentioned how much I love Fixer Uppers?). The hubs installed the shiplap himself (with some help from my dad).


So that is the first of our many, many projects! Hopefully everything turns out as good as the fireplace.


Have a great day!